Thursday, April 16, 2009

Nick Cave's wearable sculptures

Another exciting discovery for me is the Chicago artist Nick Cave (no relations to the iconic singer). I saw a photograph of one of his Soundsuits, as he calls his wearable sculptures, in a magazine and was dying to see his creations up close. Lucky me, I stumble upon an exhibition of his work in San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center For The Arts. They show about 30 of his suits in one giant room. I couldn't get enough of these strange statues that are encrusted and embellished with hundreds of buttons, hand -knitt doillies, embroideries , beads or sequince. Their sever shapes remind one of African statues with elongated rectangular heads or kluklux klan masks. They seem intimidating at first glance, but once you notice the amazing detail of their embellishment and the vibrant colors , you feel they must be part of a Mardi Gras Procession. Cave must have gone through one garage sale too many and stocked up plenty on all sorts of stuff that later finds a second live as decorative elements on his suits. I love this aspect of artistic recycling not only for its own sake, but also because it elevates that which we have discarded to new value. And Cave uses things that are anyway on our B list, handy crafts that have never been considered real art, but just hobbies, like hand-knitt sweater and doillies. Old toys, buttons and beading are hanging on his sculptures like charms dangling off a voodoo statue and evoke a strong tribal feeling, but with a kitschy twist. Don't miss this really fantastic and inspiring exhibition at YBCA through July 5th , 2009.

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